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Quiet man Osman determined to prove the cap fits

Leon Osman had stopped looking for his name when England squads were announced now, as he prepares to win his first cap, he is determined his anticipated run-out against Sweden will not be his last.

At 31, the midfielder has been one of David Moyes's greatest, if quietest, success stories and it seemed entirely fitting with a career spent under the radar that the first questions put to the Everton midfielder concerned a contemporary from across Stanley Park.

While Osman has had to content himself invariably with relegation battles or often fruitless Champions League qualification bids, Steven Gerrard has been a habitual collector of gongs during a career at Liverpool that has dovetailed with Osman's at Everton.

On Wednesday evening, Gerrard is expected to add to his long list of achivements when he wins his 100th cap against Sweden. Osman, by contrast, is hoping and praying that he earns his first. Gerrard will become the sixth Englishman to reach a century in Wednesday's friendly after a scan revealed he suffered no knee ligament damage in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Chelsea.

It will allow the 32-year-old to join Peter Shilton, David Beckham, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Billy Wright in the pantheon of great players. Such recognition seems far removed from junior days, where Osman first came across Gerrard almost two decades ago.

But even then, Gerrard was a special talent and Osman feels this latest honour is richly deserved.

"It is fantastic to get to 100 caps," the Everton midfielder said of Gerrard. "There is only a select band that has managed to do it and Steven deserves to be in that crew. "He is a fantastic player and a leader of men. We first played against each other on Merseyside when we were 12 or 13. To see him get to his 100th cap is fantastic but not surprising."

Renowned for his late runs into the box, Osman said he had not given up hope of making it into a squad. With Gerrard and Jack Wilshere expected to start, he will compete with Tom Huddlestone and Tom Cleverley for the third midfield spot.

"I hoped my time hadn't passed me by," he said. "As an English lad I had a desire to play for my country and I was hopeful it might happen. I had stopped looking for my name in the squad every time. But I didn't give up hope."

A contemporary of Joe Cole at England Under-15 level, Osman's career has been a victim of Everton's perceived status as one of England's unfashionable clubs.

"It just shows if you keep believing, concentrate on your form and make sure that is good, you may one day get recognised."

Osman's selection has earned comparisons with that of Scott Parker, who four-and-a-half years after winning his third cap, was handed a fourth in February 2011.

"Scott broke into the squad really early," said Osman. "When he got back in later on he was a lot more experienced and mature football-wise and was able to show that on the pitch. I seem to have developed late in the game as well. I didn't make my debut until I was 21 and didn't stay in the first team until I was 23, so to make a late arrival here doesn't actually surprise me."

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